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Womens Health Issues. 2007 Jan-Feb;17(1):13-21.

The cost of being a woman: a national study of health care utilization and expenditures for female-specific conditions.

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Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033-0855, USA.



An important component of women's health care is for conditions that are exclusive to women, yet little research has addressed the economic impact of health care for these conditions. The purpose of this study was to describe health care utilization for female-specific conditions, the incremental expenditures attributable to these conditions, and the overall incremental expenditures across the lifespan.


We analyzed 3 years of a nationally representative survey of the US noninstitutionalized population, the 2000-2002 National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which included 25,361 females aged > or =14, representing 38,170 person-years.


More than one fifth of women (21.2%) reported having a female-specific condition during a 1-year period, the most common of which were gynecologic disorders (7.4%); pregnancy-related conditions (6.4%); and menopausal symptoms (5.3%). The mean increment in annual total expenditures attributable to female-specific conditions ranged from $483 for menopausal disorders to $3,896 for female cancers. The annual total health care expenditures of women with female-specific conditions were estimated to be $108 billion, of which >40% ($43.3 billion) was attributable to female-specific conditions. Women with female-specific conditions who had no health insurance were less likely to have visited a doctor (p = .0002), filled a prescription (p = .001), and been hospitalized (p = .0001) for these conditions, but more likely to have visited an emergency department (p = .02) seeking treatment for these conditions.


In this nationally representative sample of American women aged > or =14, female-specific conditions were common and substantially increased costs of health care.

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